Volume 30 - Issue 3
From Pride to Peace: An Augustinian Engagement with Pluralism and PostmodernismBy Scott Harrower
This article aims to make two points:
- To propose a theological framework which draws heavily upon Augustine, and which can be used in an engaging manner with postmodern and pluralist people. This Augustinian theological framework allows for the positive expression of the uniqueness of Christ in our own times, when this is becoming increasingly difficult.
- To draw those elements from Augustine’s manner of engagement with his opponents which are most appropriate for us today.
In 2005, Augustine provides theological and methodological points of engagement with a postmodern and pluralistic world. This is because Augustine’s time shared some similarities with our own. Augustine’s time was one in which people looked for individual subjective happiness in all manner of exploitative religious whims and fancies. Many of these bear similarities to current postmodern thought. In addition, the pluralistic nature of Augustine’s time included wide beliefs such as those that all gods are one, while at the same time believing in there being many competing gods, demons and angels.1 In his multi-faith context, Augustine and his contemporary Christians ran the same risks as we do today: the risks of being ‘silenced, banished, and put an end to’.2 This was a complex and confused environment. Despite this, Augustine established the uniqueness of Christ. Augustine’s theological points of engagement with his culture, and his methodology of engagement have much to offer us. This is, first, because Augustine’s theological points of engagement provide a framework which enables and promotes nuanced discussion concerning those timeless questions about humanity and its relationship to God. Thus, Augustine creates a framework in which the uniqueness of Christ can be positively stated within a multi-faith and relativistic environment. Second, Augustine provides not only theological points of engagement, but also a method of engagement which is highly commendable.
The first section of this paper will look at a theological framework which draws heavily upon Augustine’s own theology and methodology, in order to engage the world around us and to helpfully discuss the uniqueness of Christ. In this section, the elements of the framework will be discussed one at a time. Special reference will be given to how each point can be a helpful starting interface in evangelistic conversations today. These elements, drawn from Augustine, are as follows:
- Positing a close relationship between God and humanity.
- A generous view of general revelation.
- Understanding pride as humanity’s primary problem.
- Stating that grace is the context for self-knowledge and the knowledge of God.
- The need for confession/honesty/‘being real’ without getting discouraged.
The second section of this paper discusses the manner and means with which Augustine engaged with the world around him. There are many positive and applicable points which may be drawn from them, these are:
- An honourable manner.
- The need for prayer before entering into discussions about the gospel.
- Remaining expectant and perseverant in the face of opposition.
- We should offer Scripture positively.
- We need to be confident in God’s Words as God’s means for conversion.
Section 1: An Augustinian framework for engagement
The relationship of God to humanity
Augustine states that the Creator has made us so that at our most fundamental level humankind is prompted to praise him.3 Therefore, our task in 2005 is to respond to this prompting. Evangelistically, we should respond by helping people find God so that they should praise him. We, therefore, assume that all people, including non-Christians, will suspect that God has made all of us for himself and that a person’s heart is restless ‘until it comes to rest’ in him.4 We thus recognise the work of God in the heart of the non-believer and take a positive view of this work of God.5 This approach shows respect and takes the non-Christian seriously because s/he is a human being created by, and for, God.
In response to God’s work in people’s lives, we should take Augustine’s lead in his Confessions and seek to share our own story of meeting ‘the righteous and good God’ in order to ‘excite men’s minds and affections toward him’.6 Thus, our relationship with those to whom we reach out with the gospel is not an adversarial relationship. Rather, we make the Augustinian assumption that the One whom non-Christians know as the Supreme Power, is the One whom we know more fully as the Trinity.7 At this point the uniqueness of Christ must be introduced to the discussion with non-Christians because we believe we can only know the Trinity through the mediating work of Christ.8 This is truly unique in the work of Christ and therefore in Christian understanding and life. Given the close relationship between humanity and God, this mediation by a member of, and on behalf of, the Trinity is no surprise. It is no surprise because by positing a close relationship between God and humanity, we have already established an interpretive framework which points towards the unexpected loving nature of God. Thus, if we begin to challenge people’s assumptions about God and God’s relationship with humanity at the outset, then the uniqueness of Christ in restoring this relationship is not such a stumbling block when we necessarily arrive at the topic.
The necessity of the uniqueness of Christ is established by the previous discussion about the relationship between the Trinity and humanity. As far as the Christian evangelist is concerned, the Augustinian assumption that there exists a close relationship between God and humanity is essential. Indeed, a close relationship between God and humanity is the goal of our evangelistic efforts, (in terms of a post-conversion life). This holistic life-goal is found on Jesus’ lips: love for God and love for one’s neighbour.9 For Christians, therefore, the uniqueness of Christ and his call on every life throughout the world today, establishes the goal of evangelism in a postmodern and pluralistic world.
A generous view of general revelation
Given Augustine’s view of the relationship between God and humanity, it is no surprise that Augustine has a high view of general revelation. Augustine welcomes the knowledge of the Creator that other faith systems recognise by means of creation, general revelation and people’s consciences in particular. Augustine is open to affirming points of commonality between the Christian faith and other faiths with reference to elements in creation. However, he makes it clear that general revelation serves only to point to God’s and Jesus’ words. Therefore it is not sufficient on its own.10 This means that Augustine interacts with the outworkings of general revelation in terms of other belief systems. As a direct consequence of this, Augustine interacts carefully and thoughtfully with the religious and philosophical world around him.11 This is a great example to us: we need to take the time to find out the beliefs of others, rather than dismissing them outright. Augustine takes the time to read the ‘books of the Platonists’; how many of us today have made the effort to read the Qu’ran or Buddhist texts? Surely our interaction with others, and thus our opportunity to present the uniqueness of Christ, will be limited if we cannot engage with the results of general revelation in the lives of other people.
In the evangelistic context when we have to grapple with the beliefs of others, an Augustinian approach to the uniqueness of Christ in terms of general revelation can arise without too much effort. Augustine believed that the image of God in humanity may be illuminated through the Wisdom of God, the Son.12 This wisdom is available ‘to inner eyes that are healthy and pure’.13 However, due to human fallenness and lack of pure vision,14 the result is that humanity’s ‘eyes are weak and unclean’,15 and our minds are in darkness.16 Therefore, Wisdom necessarily accommodated itself to humanity’s fallenness and ‘was prepared to be seen by their eyes of flesh’.17 As a result of this, through the incarnation, we see what God really looks like. This is because he is God, the only one to whom general revelation had been signifying and pointing. Thus Christ is unique, and no other one can fulfil this function.18 At the Incarnation, therefore, we see the intersection between general revelation and God. Thus, general revelation’s signifying function is relativised because Jesus alone enlightens the minds of humanity so that we can follow the path to God which is Jesus himself.19 The incarnation is thus ‘the pavement under our feet along which we could return home’.20 The model discussed above demonstrates that by engaging with general revelation and moving to revelation in Christ, an Augustinian model leads to the uniqueness of Christ and a return to God.
Pride as humanity’s problem
Augustine believed that pride lay at the centre of sin.
What is the origin of our evil will but pride? For ‘pride is the beginning of sin’. And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons him to him it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes an end in itself.21
‘Pride’ is language that we can employ today for ‘sin’. The word ‘pride’ is more helpful in a postmodern and pluralist context than the word ‘sin’. There are several reasons for this ‘pride’ is a more recognisable phenomena, both at an interpersonal and international level, than is the concept of sin. ‘Sin’ has unfortunately become both abstract (despite its obvious consequences) and offensive (though people may find it difficult to state the reason for the offence at the word). From a personal point of view, the non-Christian is more likely to find it easier to recognise pride in themselves than to recognise sin. It is more probable people will not only recognise, but also own, their pride than it is for them to own their sin. Augustine, therefore, provides us with helpful language when he describes the nature of sin as pride.
Augustine also helps us when he exposes the outworking of pride in terms of other belief systems. People do not satisfy themselves with God. Rather, they try to satisfy themselves with ‘their own imaginings, not your [God’s] truth’.22 The link between sin, ‘these imaginings’, and other religions lies in the fact that the Devil ‘puffs man up with false philosophy or entangles him in sacrilegiously sacred rites’.23 Augustine gives us a helpful starting point for conversations with non-Christians when he encourages the use of pride in terms of our relationship to God, and therefore our need for Jesus.24 Pride is a helpful starting point because the consequences of pride are clearly visible in our time. In particular, the close relationship between pride, anxiety and low self-esteem provides a starting point for discussion with non-Christians. These prevalent and persistent human problems arise due to our lack of relationship to God and our neighbour.25 This is a valuable insight with regard to pride in a post-modern culture. Our culture is obsessed with, and at the same time disappointed with, the self. We can engage with people’s struggle with self-regard as an entry point to the discussion of pride, sin and the need for grace in Christ. We can discuss anxiety and self-esteem and point to pride and its visible consequences in relation to not enjoying God, our neighbour, the world and ourselves.26 We therefore have to take seriously the major issues facing people’s lives at the same time as we point people to the fundamental issue in their own lives.
The discussion thus engages people at the level of a major life issue and moves to the fundamental issue: sin. A discussion of this issue will have to take into account the fact that postmodernism feeds off the influence of humanistic psychotherapy. This philosophy has taught Western society that ‘there is no innate selfishness, self-centeredness, or inordinate pleasure seeking’.27 Here we see a situation which has points of contact with the Pelagian controversy which Augustine faced28 and therefore an Augustinian theology is most appropriate today. Augustine reminds us that though humanistic views might call us to forget sin and to pretend we live in an Edenic state (and have no need for Jesus), we know the reason that people did not remain in harmony with God, each other and the garden was due to pride. Augustine strongly reminds us, therefore, that pride and its effects must be overcome before harmony with God and our neighbour can be re-established.
As a result the grounds have been laid for a further aspect of the uniqueness of Christ: his mediating actions. Augustine believed that Christ’s mediating role between God and humanity pardons and washes away sin.29 Thus, the death and resurrection of Christ are essential to Jesus’ uniqueness and the human pride problem. Jesus alone brings forgiveness of sins and justification.30 In terms of anxiety and issues of the self, only the resurrection of Christ brings the resurrection and healing of our own body and soul,31 as well as healing and safety to our wills.32
Grace as the context for self-knowledge and the knowledge of God
One particularly attractive aspect of Augustine’s theology is that he proposed grace as the context in which we should establish the uniqueness of Christ. Outler is correct to point out that ‘the central theme in all Augustine’s writings is the sovereign God of grace and the sovereign grace of God’.33 In Augustine’s thought, grace is defined as ‘God’s freedom … to act in love beyond human understanding or control; to act in creation, judgement, and redemption; to give his Son freely as Mediator and Redeemer … Grace is God’s unmerited love and favour’.34 This being the case, there are strong reasons for following Augustine’s lead today. In our conversations about God we need to highlight his grace. This is a warm and engaging doctrine which invites the pluralist and postmodern person into discussion. Grace initially invites, rather than rejects. Grace means that God has, can, and will act in ways which are much better and greater than we may expect. It transforms the common view that God is basically distant and unloving.
The need for confession/honesty/‘Being Real’, without becoming discouraged
Our theological engagement with postmodernism must deal with people ‘being real’ with God. Augustinian theology recognises that people want be known by God and know him. At the point of ‘being real’ or ‘getting real’ with God, the acknowledgement of human pride converges with humanity’s basic desire to know God. Augustine calls this confession:35
confiteri [which] means to acknowledge, to God, the truth one knows about God. To confess then is to praise and glorify God; it is an exercise in self-knowledge and true humility in the atmosphere of grace and reconciliation.36
Self-knowledge in the light of knowing God is extremely refreshing in a confused climate. Although the language of confession may not be appropriate today, the language of ‘getting real’ or ‘being true’ can be employed appropriately with reference to the definition of confession given earlier. That is, ‘getting real’ or ‘being true’ can be infused with the meaning that Augustine gave to the term ‘confession.’ As Christians, we call people to be real/true with both God and themselves. If God is at work in people’s lives, the reality of pride and sin will become apparent when people are honest in the light of God and Christ. We need to bear in mind that this is immensely challenging. However, Augustine’s context of grace offers hope. People should not be discouraged in the light of their short-comings before God, rather, people who need to be ‘persuaded how much God loves us, in case out of sheer despair we lacked the courage to reach up to him’.37
Thus a theology of grace will be needful in order to move a person beyond the realisation of pride. This realisation of ‘what sort of people we are that he loves’, serves to prevent people from taking ‘pride in our own worth, and so bounce even further away from him and sink even more under our own strength’.38Augustine establishes, therefore, that people need to look for a way beyond pride which will lead to ‘eternity, truth, and happiness’39 within the context of the grace of God and their own inability. Here the grounds for the incarnation have been established because ‘God’s grace became incarnate in Jesus Christ’, and God’s grace also established ‘the ground of Christian humility by abolishing the ground of human pride’.40
In the context of postmodern crisis and pluralist confusion, the incarnation guards against fear and discouragement as people seek, find and then continue to walk with God after their conversion. The incarnation of Christ means that God is not distant from us, rather he has in Christ, experienced and voiced the fullness of human suffering. Not only are these experiences of Christ reassuring and significant aspects of the ground of intimacy with God, these expressions of God are available to the believer through the Psalms.41 We know Jesus to the extent that we can have ownership of his feelings and actions in the Psalms. Conversely, God in Christ can completely know the state of the reader in all circumstances.42Through the incarnation God has bridged the existential gap between the Creator and the created. Thus, the believer is never alienated from God ontologically, nor are they alienated from God existentially.
This speaks volumes to the postmodern individual whose current experience determines the reality of God. By anticipating and experiencing their life in Christ, God is always in the present in the experience of the believer and cannot be excluded from their life even in times of darkness. Augustine applies this not only to the individual but to the body of believers too. Thus, the postmodern focus on the ‘tribal group’ or group consensus is also met in Augustine’s theology of Jesus speaking in all of Scripture as the Head of the Body, as well as speaking as the incarnate Son.43 He addresses corporate believers by stating: ‘Do not hear anything spoken in the person of Christ as if it had nothing to do with you who are members of the Body of Christ’.44 Therefore, at the point of confession, Augustine has made a strong and integrated appeal for the uniqueness of Christ by providing the previous theological framework within which this discussion can take place.
In summary, we can say that Augustine’s theological method of engagement with a confused world is relevant to our situation. It seeks theological starting points which are biblical, yet resonate with a multi-faith and individualistic environment. The emphasis on grace and the positive work of God in the lives of those who are seeking him provides a context within which pride and our status before God can be discussed in a manner which encourages hope in finding Jesus. Augustine draws many of these threads together when he says:
take a man who has been roused by the warmth of the Holy Spirit and has already woken up to God … he has taken a look at himself in God’s light, and discovered himself, and realised that his own sickness cannot be compounded with God’s cleanliness … and he prays with all confidence once he has received the free gratuitous pledge of health through the one and only saviour and enlightener granted us by God.45
Section 2: An Augustinian Manner of Engagement
An honourable manner
As evangelists and people who teach the faith in our day, we receive a great help from Augustine with reference to the manner by which we engage people who hold a differing view to our own. Referring to the teacher, Augustine advocates a life which commends the gospel to others. In our context, we must both firmly promote the truth and express it in a godly manner. Augustine gives us some very valuable insights:
For while he [the teacher] pursues an upright life, he takes care to maintain a good reputation as well providing things honest in the sight of God and men, fearing God and caring for men … [Paul] says to Timothy: ‘Charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.’ Now this does not mean that, when adversaries oppose the truth, we are to say nothing in defence of the truth … To strive about words is not to be careful about the way to overcome error by truth, but to be anxious that your mode of expression be preferred to that of another.
The man who does not strive about words … uses words with no other purpose than to make the truth plain, pleasing and effective; for not even love itself, which is the end of the commandment and the fulfilling of the law, can be rightly exercised unless the objects of love are true and not false.46
Augustine encourages us not to be swept away by the ideas of our age, rather, to uphold the truth in a manner which is honest and caring.
Prayer before entering discussions about the gospel
When a person engages with others on the uniqueness of Christ, they need to pray beforehand, as they will ‘succeed more by piety in prayer than by gifts of oratory’. The Christian should ‘pray for himself, and for those he is to address, before he attempts to speak’.47 Prayer thus reminds us that our evangelism is like our very being: dependant upon God. Only God can move the inner hearts of people and we must pray that he be active in the lives of those we invite into fellowship in Christ. In a postmodern context when the opinions, feelings and even personhood of those we are trying to reach are continually shifting, it is sometimes difficult to know where to start and what to say. Why not heed the following advice from Augustine:
For in to every matter of faith and love there are many things that may be said, and many ways of saying them, who knows what it is expedient at a given moment for us to say, or to be heard saying except God who knows the hearts of all?48
We should follow Augustine’s example today, and be people of prayer if we are to be effective evangelists in a confused and often confusing climate.
Augustine believes we should be expectant and persevering
Augustine does not give up on anyone as a potential believer. He reflects the Bible when he asks God the following rhetorical question: ‘Are there not many men who, out of a deeper pit of darkness … return to thee—who draw near to thee and are illuminated by that light which gives those who receive to power from thee to become thy sons?’49 The fact that people are caught up in postmodernism and different religions does not place them beyond God’s reach. We need to persevere even in the face of massive human resistance to the claims of the uniqueness of Christ: ‘For God by his grace turns men’s wills to the true faith when they are not only averse to it, but adverse.’50
We should offer Scripture positively
Given Augustine’s understanding of God as relational, it is no surprise that within the relational context of the divine-human relationship, ‘Augustine defined the function of the Bible as a privileged means of God’s interaction with humanity’.51 Augustine believed that the aim of Scripture was to move people beyond their pride, and into a loving relationship with God, within which he is enjoyed.52 The function of Scripture is to promote ‘the love of a Being which is to be enjoyed and of a Being that can share that enjoyment with us’.53What an encouragement to those to whom we offer Scripture! I believe that if we offer Scripture as a means to enjoying God, and know and mean it by virtue of experience, we are much more likely to receive a positive response.
We need to be confident in God’s Words as God’s means for conversion
Although Augustine worked from a very firm conviction on the inspiration of Scripture, his belief was that the God-inspired nature of Scripture was personal rather than speculative and dogmatic. Augustine’s personal experience was that rather than placing himself as the authority over Scripture, he was exegeted by Scripture. Froehlich states this as:
[Augustine also] regarded the inspiration of Scripture as a matter of personal discovery, not doctrine. Its truth imposed itself on him … the words hit home. Rather than the teacher of rhetoric interpreting the Bible, the Bible interpreted him through the providential action of God’s Spirit.54
With reference to this personally explicative or illustrative nature of Scripture, Augustine is also interpreted as believing that ‘We mortals no longer make judgements about truth and meaning; rather, the truth and meaning of God judges us and transforms us.’55 Therefore, by means of God’s words, ‘theology relativises the self’.56 This relativising the self is desperately needed in our time where the self rules selfishly.
Augustine ensured this relativising of the self was not at the whim of the reader. He pointed out that there is control over the interpretation of Scripture because Scripture has a terminus. This means that we need to ensure the non-Christian reader must have in mind the two-fold interpretive matrix for Scripture: the purpose is to grow love for God and love for our neighbour. Thus, in Augustine’s mind, the aim is to convert people.57This is because God’s words are ‘the word of Christ, of which it is written, ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God’.58 Though the critique may be made that the claim that Scripture has the fundamental aim of teaching love for God and neighbour is absolutist, this offer is positive and not negative.59
Therefore we need to trust Scripture as God’s chosen means for personal conversion to a personal God. Furthermore, we must entrust the non-Christian into the hands of God as his Scriptures exegete the reader as the Holy Spirit works in their life.
Hence in this section, we can see that Augustine provides many helpful pointers in terms of the manner and means by which we speak to the world around us. The task of promoting the uniqueness of Christ is greatly enhanced by the manner with which we conduct ourselves before God and people.
In conclusion to this paper, we can say that Augustine provides many theological and methodological points for engaging a postmodern and pluralist world in 2005. We will be greatly helped if we follow his lead in our endeavours to establish the uniqueness of Christ. The theological matrix provided by Augustine encompasses many points for relevant theological engagement with the world. When applied as a system, these theological points converge to prompt the non-Christian to ‘get real’ with God and return home to him through Christ. Augustine also recommends that we remove opposition to the uniqueness of Christ by our honourable manner, prayer, perseverance, offering Scripture positively and being confident in God’s words as his means for conversion.
Augustine Confessions and Enchiridion, Outler, A.C. (ed. and trans.), (London: SCM Press, 1960)
Augustine Homilies on the Gospel of St John, Homilies on the First Epistle of St John, Soliloquies, in Schaff, P. (ed.), (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1974)
Augustine The Trinity, Hill, E. (trans.) & Roetelle, J.E. (ed.), (New York: New City Press, 1991)
Cooper, T.D. Sin, Pride and Self-Acceptance (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003)
Fitzgerald, A.D. (ed.), Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopaedia, (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1999)
Froehlich, K. ‘Take Up and Read’, in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, January 2004, 5–16.
Polman, AD.R. The Word of God According to Saint Augustine, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1961)
Weaver R.H. ‘Reading the Signs’, in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan. 2004, 28–41.
Williams, R. ‘Augustine and the Psalms’, in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan 2004.
Young, F. ‘Augustine’s Hermeneutics and Postmodern Criticism’, in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, 42–55.
1 Augustine, City of God, 4. 11–32; 6; 7; 8; 9.
2 Augustine, City of God, 2.20.
3 Augustine, Confessions, 1.1.1
4 Augustine, Confessions, 1.1.1
5 In his anti-pelagian writings, Augustine is clear that the will of a human does not seek God of its own volition. Thus, this is not a valid starting point. Rather, the outcome of the work of the Trinity (a person seeking God, at God’s prompting) is a valid starting point. Williams, R., ‘Augustine and the Psalms’, in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No.1, Jan. 2004, p. 21
6 Augustine, The Retractions, 2.6 (427 AD), in Outler, A.C., (ed. and trans.), Augustine: Confessions and Enchiridion, (London: SCM Press, 1960), 24.
7 Augustine, Enchiridion, 3.11; 3.9.
8 ‘When he said “The Glory of the only begotten of the Father”, this means “Full of Truth” Indeed it was truth himself, God’s only begotten Son.’ Enchiridion 11.36.
‘This then is the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord—that we are reconciled to God through the Mediator and receive the Holy Spirit so that we may be changed from enemies into sons.’ Augustine, Enchiridion, 10.33.
9 ‘Whoever thinks that he understands the divine Scripture or any part of them so that it does not build the double love of God and our neighbour does not understand it at all.’ Augustine, De Doct. Christ. 1.36.40. Quoted from a translation by D.W. Robertson, Saint Augustine: On Christian Doctrine, The Library of Liberal Arts 80, (Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1958) cited in K. Froehlich, ‘Take Up and Read,’ in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No.1, January 2004, p. 11.
10 Augustine, City of God, 10.14; on the relationship between neo-Platonist views of God and the Trinity, see Confessions 7.9.13–7.9.15). See also Confessions 7.9.16ff on his growing understanding of God.
11 See how he deals with this in both the structure of City of God and the content of this work.
12 Augustine treats Illumination in Soliloquies 1.8.15, The Teacher 11.38, On free Will 1.6.15. Cited in R.H. Weaver, ‘Reading the Signs’, in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan. 2004, 28–41, p. 32.
13 De Doctrin. 1.12.11 R.H. cited in Weaver, p. 33.
14 De Doctrin. 1.9.9, cited in Weaver, p. 33.
15 De Doctrin. 1.12.11 cited in Weaver, p. 33.
16 Augustine defines darkness as: ‘darkness is the foolish minds of men, blinded by depraved desires and unbelief’, Augustine, The Trinity, 4.1.3.
17 De Doctrin. 1.12.11 cited in Weaver, p. 33.
18 Weaver correctly summarises this unique aspect of Christ in Augustine’s thought as: ‘The humanity of Christ is to be used as the means of access to the deity of Christ. It is the only true sign that is accurate in its pointing because it is joined to the that to which it points, the Trinity.’ Weaver, p. 33.
19 Augustine, The Trinity, 4.1.3.
20 De Doctrin. 1.17.16, cited in Weaver, p. 33. Augustine also states that ‘Even the Lord himself, insofar as he was prepared to be the way for us, did not wish us to hold onto him but pass along … temporal things, even those he took to himself and carried for our salvation … to run eagerly along and through them, and so deserve to be swiftly and finally conveyed to him himself … at the right hand of the Father.’
21 Augustine, The City of God, 14.13.13.
22 Augustine, The Trinity, 4, Prologue 1
23 Augustine, The Trinity, 4.3.13.
24 Though Aquinas does not use the word pride, he reflects the result of the prideful ‘replacement of God with self’ as set out in Romans 1, when he points to the result of sin in terms of people’s minds: ‘through sin man’s mind withdrew from subjection to God’. T. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 2.164.1, cited in T.D. Cooper, Sin, Pride and Self-Acceptance, (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003) 42.
25 This is because true self understanding and self regard can only occur in the context of love for God and love for our neighbour because for this we have been created. R. Niebhur, The Nature and Destiny of Man, 1.150, 1.183, cited in T.D. Cooper, Sin, Pride and Self-Acceptance, (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 35–37
26 See N. Wolterstorff, Until Justice and Peace Embrace, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983) on this extension of love for God and neighbour.
27 T.D. Cooper, Sin, Pride and Self-Acceptance, (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 47.
28 Cooper notes very strong parallels between Rogerian philosophy and Pelagian theology. See Cooper, p. 31.
29 ‘That one sin … cannot be pardoned and washed away except through “the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”, who alone could be born in such a way as not to need to be reborn’. Augustine, Enchiridion, 14.48, quoting 1 Tim. 2:5.
30 ‘The death of Christ crucified is nothing other than the likeness of the forgiveness of sins—so that in the very same sense in which the death is real, so also is the forgiveness of our sins real, and in the same sense in which his resurrection is real, so also in us is there authentic justification’. Augustine, Enchiridion, 14.52.
31 Augustine, The Trinity, 4. Prologue 1.
32 ‘Evil is done away with … by healing the nature which has been spoilt and by making straight what had become twisted … the will spoils itself, it can be restored only by him who had the power to give it. Hence the truth says, ‘If the Son has made you free, then in the truth you will be free’, which is the same thing as saying ‘If the Son has made you safe and whole, then indeed you will be safe and whole’, Augustine, City of God, 14.11.
33 Outler, (ed.), Augustine: Confessions and Enchiridion, 14–15.
34 Outler, (ed.), Augustine: Confessions and Enchiridion, 14–15.
35 The confession discussed above refers to the second form of confession, the first is ‘the free acknowledgement, before God, of the truth one knows about oneself—and this obviously meant, for Augustine, the ‘confession of sins.’ But at the same time, and more importantly, Outler, (ed.), Augustine: Confessions and Enchiridion, 19.
36 Augustine: Confessions and Enchiridion, 19.
37 Augustine, The Trinity, 4.1.2.
38 Augustine, The Trinity, 4.1.2.
39 Augustine, The Trinity, 4.1.2
40 Outler, (ed.), Augustine: Confessions and Enchindrion, 14–15.
41 Augustine, Enarrat., Ps. 30 ii 3–4; 74.4; 142.4. The current Christian interpretation of the Psalms is based upon the double hermeneutic principle outlines in Enarrationes exposition of Ps. 140, where Jesus identifies himself as the Body of believers as the Head of the Body ‘why are you persecuting me?’ as well as the Incarnate Son ‘the least of the brethren’. The basis for this is that Jesus is the Word whose voice is heard in all Scripture. R. Williams, ‘Augustine and the Psalms’, in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan 2004, 19–20.
42 Augustine states that in Ps. 66 the cry is ‘God appealing to God for mercy’ Reflecting on this in the light of Augustine’s Trinitarian and Incarnation theology, Williams is correct to state that ‘the eternal difference in the Trinitarian life between the Father and the Son is what makes possible the identification of the Son with even the most radical state of “otherness” from God or separation from God’.
43 Augustine, Enarrat., Ps. 30 ii.i.3, 4, 56. 1, 62.2, 68l and ii passim, 74.4, 87.14, 90, I and ii, passim, 140.5–7. Cited in, R. Williams, ‘Augustine and the Psalms’, in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan. 2004, p. 19.
44 Enarrat. Ps. 143.1, cited in, R. Williams, ‘Augustine and the Psalms’, in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan. 2004, p. 21.
45 Augustine, The Trinity, 4. Prologue 1
46 Quoting 2 Tim. 2:14b: ‘and charge them before the Lord, to avoid disputing about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers’ On Christian Doctrine, 4.28.61
47 Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, 4.16.15.
48 Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, 4.14.15.
49 Augustine, Confessions, 8.4.9.
50 Augustine, De Dono Perseverantiae, 10.53 (428 AD), in A.C. Outler, (ed. and trans.), Augustine: Confessions and Enchiridion, (London: SCM Press, 1960), 25.
51 K. Froehlich, ‘Take Up and Read’ in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan. 2004, p. 9. See Augustine, Conf.13.15.16–18 and Bernard, R.W., ‘The Rhetoric of God in the Figurative Exegesis of Augustine’, in Biblical Hermeneutics in Historical Perspective: Studies in Honour of Karlfried Froehlich on his Sixtieth Birthday, M.S. Burrows, and P. Rorem, (eds), (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 88–99.
52 F. Young, ‘Augustine’s hermeneutics and Postmodern Criticism,’ in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan 2004, p. 55.
53 De Doctr. Christ. 1.35.39, cited in Froehlich, ‘Take Up and Read,’ p. 11 Augustine defines enjoyment as ‘consists in clinging to something lovingly for its own sake’. De Dectr. Christ 1.3.3–1.4.4, cited in R.H. Weaver, ‘Reading the Signs,’ in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, p. 30.
54 K. Froehlich, ‘Take Up and Read,’ p. 7
55 F. Young, ‘Augustine’s hermeneutics and Postmodern Criticism,’ in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan 2004, p. 54.
56 F. Young, ‘Augustine’s hermeneutics and Postmodern Criticism,’ in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, p. 54.
57 F. Young, ‘Augustine’s hermeneutics and Postmodern Criticism,’ in Interpretation, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan. 2004, p. 54.
58 Augustine, Enarratio in Psalm 119, cited in A.D.R. Polman, 216.
59 In De Doctrine Christiana